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Did You Know?

- Ferrets lack a cecum to digest/ process fuits and vegetables.

- A ferrets left lung has 2 lobes, while the right has 4.

- A ferrets body contains 14 or 15 pairs of ribs.

- A kit has 30 baby teeth, while an adult has 34.

- Food fully travels throughout their system in 3 hours.

Epizootic Catarrhal Enteritis
(ECE)

 

 

ECE (E = Rapid spread throughout naive ferret, C = Containing Mucous E = Intestinal inflammation) a coronavirus, also known as "Green Slime" and "Green Poop", attacks the stomach and intestinal lining of the ferret as well as interferes and starves the animal of the necessary fluid and nutrient absorption needed. ECE is highly contagious and chances are all your ferrets will become ill at varying degrees (it is possible that some ferrets are carriers of this disease and show no symptoms). Currently there is no prevention or vaccine for this highly contagious coronavirus, though once your ferret contracts the disease, they usually do not get it again. The severity of this disease generally increases with the age of the ferret.

Infection typically occurs from direct contact of infected animals or human contact with infected animal. Recovered ferrets can shed the virus in stools for 6+ months after initial infection. You can confirm if the virus is shedding by using a fecal PCR test to identify the marker or have an intestinal biopsy done (by Michigan State University). Actual course of disease tends to run 1 - 3 weeks, though signs (low body weight, weakness, poorly formed stools) can last months.

Symptoms of ECE includes neon colored green watery diarrhea with an abundant amount of mucous containing a very foul fish odor. Within a few days, the diarrhea might stop but your ferret can begin to lose weight, due to lack of eating and in addition become dehydrated. This is caused by stomach acid attacking their digestive tract which leads to ulcers in the stomach, throat and/or mouth. This virus can potentially kill your ferret, which is why it is imperative that you be alert to all of their habits and any changes. Of the number of ferrets that are properly treated and looked after, only 1-2% result in death. Providing proper supportive care is vital to your ferrets recovery.

Immediate aggressive treatment is needed as a ferret can go from healthy to critically dehydrated and ill within 8 hours, hydration is key. There are no medicines to attack the virus, only the symptoms.

When your ferret begins to stop eating and/or drinking on its own it is vital that you prepare and feed them a bland diet of duck soup or Gerber's chicken stage 2 baby food. It is important at this stage to also add pedialyte to their water. The easiest way to tell if your ferret is dehydrated is by pinching the scruff of their neck, under normal conditions the skin will snap back, if they are dehydrated, the skin tends to stick together. If dehydrated, often the ferret will need to be administered sub-q fluids. An oral antibiotic (Amoxicillin) will usually be prescribed to prevent secondary bacterial infections and complications.

As the virus can be shed for up to 6 months following infection, and can be transmitted on clothes, shoes, ferret-to-ferret contact, etc,. You should always wash your hands and clothing between handling other ferrets. Affected animals will need to be kept isolated preferable in other rooms and you should not share any cage contents among ferrets. If you suspect ECE in your ferret, you should get them to the veterinarian immediately, as immediate treatment will be necessary.

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Health Tid Bits

- Ferret's normal rectal temperature is between 100 - 104 with 101.9 being the average.

- Heart rate is 180 - 250 bpm with 225 being average.

- Respiration is 33-36 per minute.

- Normal urine pH is 6.5 - 7.5

- Blood volume is 60-80 ml/ kg.

- Ferrets do possess toxoplasmosis in their systems. However, unlike cats they cannot release/ shed the infected eggs back into the environment, they hit a dead end, so humans cannot catch the disease.

 
All content on this site has been researched and authored by Brenda (webmaster).

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